Performance data

The Performance API measures and exposes performance data that can be collected as performance metrics for your web application. It provides methods to observe aspects of application performance. It doesn't provide performance data analysis, or visualizations. However, the Performance API is integrated well with developer tools in browsers and its data is often sent to analytics end points and libraries to record performance metrics which help you to evaluate the data to find performance bottlenecks affecting your users.

This page provides an overview about what sorts of Performance API data exists, how it is collected, and how it can be accessed.

Collecting data

Most of the metrics exposed by the Performance API are automatically collected by the browser, and you don't have to tell it to collect them: you just have to retrieve them.

For some metrics you do have to tell the browser what to measure:

  • the Element Timing metric measures the time it takes to load and render certain DOM elements. This metric is opt-in: to ask the browser to include metrics for a particular element you must add the elementtiming attribute to it.
  • the User Timing metric enables you to measure the time between arbitrary points in your program, that might map to application-defined operations (such as logging in a user). To collect these metrics you need to add Performance API calls at the relevant points.
  • the Server Timing metric enables you to measure the time taken for application-defined server-side operations. To collect these metrics your server must send the Server-Timing HTTP header.

Performance data structure

The Performance API collects performance data for each global object (window.performance or self.performance in workers). See self.performance for which APIs are available in window and worker contexts. If you are collecting performance metrics for multiple contexts, also take a look at performance.timeOrigin to synchronize time origins between contexts.

Within these contexts, individual performance data is represented by performance entries.

Performance entries

A single recorded performance data point is called a performance entry and is represented by an instance of the PerformanceEntry interface.

The Performance API records various different types of performance data, and the PerformanceEntry has an entryType property which is a string describing the type of this performance entry:

  • "element" records how long it takes an element to load and render.
  • "event" records how long it took the browser to start running an event handler in response to its trigger, and how long the event handler took to run.
  • "first-input" records the First input delay.
  • "largest-contentful-paint" records the largest paint during page load.
  • "layout-shift" records a metric representing how much the page layout has shifted in each animation frame.
  • "longtask" records tasks that took 50ms or more.
  • "mark" records a custom timestamp made by the developer.
  • "measure" records a custom measurement between two timestamps made by the developer.
  • "navigation" records metrics associated with navigating to and initial load of the page.
  • "paint" records key moments of rendering during page load.
  • "resource" records how long it took the browser to fetch a resource.

Performance entry subclasses

Particular entry types typically include extra type-specific data: for example, the "resource" type captures the time at which DNS lookup started and ended. So entries are represented by subclasses that extend the basic PerformanceEntry interface. For example, a "resource" entry is represented by an instance of PerformanceResourceTiming, which inherits from PerformanceEntry, and which adds properties to record DNS lookup timestamps.

The subclasses of PerformanceEntry also define the semantics of the properties belonging to PerformanceEntry itself: for example, PerformanceEntry has a name property whose meaning depends on the subclass.

The following interfaces inherit from PerformanceEntry:

Accessing data

You can access performance entries in one of two ways. The preferred way is to use the PerformanceObserver interface, which is constructed with a callback function to be called when particular performance entries are recorded. You then call its observe method, passing in the types to observe and using the buffered option to retrieve entries that occurred before observation.

function logEventDuration(entries) {
  const events = entries.getEntriesByType("event");
  for (const event of events) {
      `Event handler took: ${
        event.processingEnd - event.processingStart
      } milliseconds`

const observer = new PerformanceObserver(logEventDuration);
observer.observe({ type: "event", buffered: true });

Alternatively, you can use the Performance.getEntries(), Performance.getEntriesByName(), and Performance.getEntriesByType() methods to retrieve all performance entries for a page, or entries matching the given name or type.

const events = performance.getEntriesByType("event");

for (const event of events) {
    `Event handler took: ${
      event.processingEnd - event.processingStart
    } milliseconds`

The PerformanceObserver option is preferred because:

  • The getEntries* methods will always return all relevant entries since the start of the timeline, so if you call it twice, you will see the same entries again and will need to filter out entries that you've seen before.
  • Observer notifications are delivered asynchronously, so the browser can dispatch them during idle time to minimize their performance impact.
  • Not all entry types work with the getEntries* methods. For some you have to use performance observers to access them.

Managing buffer sizes

There is a buffer limit for performance entries for each global object. It ensures that the browser doesn't consume indefinite memory when holding performance data. Especially when your website or application fetches a lot of resources (e.g. when using polling), you might need to look into the limits for the buffers:

entryType identifier Interface Maximum number of buffer entries
"mark" PerformanceMark Infinite
"measure" PerformanceMeasure Infinite
"navigation" PerformanceNavigationTiming Infinite
"resource" PerformanceResourceTiming 250 (adjustable, see below)
"longtask" PerformanceLongTaskTiming 200
"paint" PerformancePaintTiming 2 (there won't be more)
"element" PerformanceElementTiming 150
"event" PerformanceEventTiming 150
"first-input" PerformanceEventTiming 1 (there won't be more)
"layout-shift" LayoutShift 150
"largest-contentful-paint" LargestContentfulPaint 150

Table 1. Buffer sizes (source).

For "resource" entry types, see Managing resource buffer sizes for how to set a different buffer size.

For "first-input" and "paint", the limitation is inherent in the metric's definition. There won't be more entries than one (or two).

The performance observer callback contains an optional droppedEntriesCount parameter that tells you how many entries were lost because the buffer storage was full.

function perfObserver(list, observer, droppedEntriesCount) {
  list.getEntries().forEach((entry) => {
    // do something with the entries
  if (droppedEntriesCount > 0) {
      `${droppedEntriesCount} entries were dropped because the buffer was full.`
const observer = new PerformanceObserver(perfObserver);
observer.observe({ type: "resource", buffered: true });

Another useful method is PerformanceObserver.takeRecords() which returns the current list of performance entries stored in the performance observer while also emptying it out.

JSON data

All performance entries provide a toJSON() serializer which returns a JSON representation of the entry. This can be useful if you want to collect all of the available data and store it somewhere.

const observer = new PerformanceObserver((list) => {
  list.getEntries().forEach((entry) => {

observer.observe({ type: "event", buffered: true });

This would log a JSON object like so:

  "name": "dragover",
  "entryType": "event",
  "startTime": 67090751.599999905,
  "duration": 128,
  "processingStart": 67090751.70000005,
  "processingEnd": 67090751.900000095,
  "cancelable": true

To get a string representation of the entry, you can use JSON.stringify(entry) with any PerformanceEntry object directly; it will call the entry's toJSON() method automatically.

See also